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Taking baby steps to lose weight pays off

June 3, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
If you told yourself today you're going to cut out fried foods. Then tomorrow you managed to get a few minutes of exercise, and then the next day you discovered new ways to eat more vegetables. By the end of the month you might discover you're leading a healthier life. One local woman says it's all about taking the first step.For lunch, it's a light meal and a 2.5 mile walk. Teri O'Neal says the road to a healthier life is about taking one step at a time.

"It's not hard at all to make little changes," said O'Neal. "Little changes add up to big changes."

This slow and steady attitude helped O'Neal lose 60 pounds.

"My blood pressure improved," said O'Neal. "I was starting to have cardiac arrhythmias and that has disappeared. My cholesterol is down into the normal range."

And now she and 300 other employees of Kaiser Permanente in Panorama City have just completed the 30 Day Challenge to eat better and exercise more.

"We made a ton of changes starting on May 3," said Dr. Christian Raigosa, Kaiser Permanente. "We shut down the fryer. We took out all sugary snacks and soda from our cafeteria as well."

Participants received daily e-mail reminders full of tips and inspiration.

"Eat something healthy. Try a different vegetable. Try a new form of exercise," said O'Neal. "Relieve you stress. Do different things each day."

Aside from maintaining a healthy diet, Dr. Raigosa says exercise is equally important.

"Find 30 minutes in your day to exercise," said Dr. Raigosa. "You don't have to do it all at once. You can break it up and all those minutes add up."

The concept behind the 30 Day Challenge is that little changes reap big results. Research shows if you adopt a healthier habit for four to six weeks, chances are it will stick.

"If you can deal with what's between the ears then you can make changes," said O'Neal.

O'Neal says the best advice she can give is to just get started.

The old journey of a thousand miles starts with one step, just take that first step.

One more tip you can incorporate at home: Dr. Raigosa says keeping a log of what you eat and how many minutes you exercise can help. Just make sure you really stick to it and write down everything. It's also a good way to spot patterns and habits you have.